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Ohio attorney general says jails should not be detox centers

The opiate epidemic has struck Ohio harder than many other states. From an increased number of arrests to the shocking number of deaths, the statistics are numbing. In 2014, the state had the second highest number of overdose deaths, yet is only the seventh largest state by population.

A recent report finds that 86 percent of those with dependence issues lack access to care or treatment. The incident in East Liverpool, where two adults were found unconscious in a vehicle, apparently after an overdose, with a four-year-old boy in the back seat has called additional attention to the epidemic in Ohio.

The state's attorney general met with lawmakers and law enforcement officials at a summit  in Lisbon to work towards finding a solution to this tragic issue. As chief law enforcement officer in the state, he made an honest assessment when he noted that drug addiction is not a problem that the criminal justice system and the prisons can solve.

Part of the difficulty in coming grips with the opiate epidemic is that it has been treated as a crime/law enforcement problem, when it is really more of a public health problem. He urges better education, beginning in kindergarten to inform young people of the dangers of addiction.

Of course, the state may also realize that it will have to substantially increase the resources for drug treatment programs in an effort to reverse the effects of heroin and other opiate addictions.

The efforts of law enforcement are made pointless if those identified or arrested as suffering from a chemical dependency are not provided meaningful, long-term treatment. Without treatment, they are likely to either return to the criminal justice system repeatedly or end up as yet one more victim of the deadly epidemic.

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